Appeal against Tian Chua’s acquittal withdrawn

PUTRAJAYA — The prosecution yesterday withdrew its appeal against Batu MP Tian Chua’s sedition charge acquittal.

Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat who chaired a three-member panel, struck out the appeal after deputy public prosecutor K. Mangai informed the court the prosecution had withdrawn its appeal.

The other two judges on the panel were Justices Datuk Ahmadi Asnawi and Datuk Zabariah Mohd Yusof.

With this development, Tian Chua’s acquittal remains. The Court of Appeal is the last avenue for the prosecution to appeal as this case had originated from the Sessions Court.

On March 2, the Kuala Lumpur High Court upheld the Sessions Court’s decision to acquit Tian Chua of sedition after rejecting the prosecution’s appeal.

Judicial commissioner Datuk Nordin Hassan ruled the prosecution had failed to prove Tian Chua had uttered seditious words in regard to the Lahad Datu intrusion, in a news
portal article.

On Nov 14, 2014, Sessions Court judge Norsharidah Awang discharged and acquitted Tian Chua, 52, without calling for his defence.

Tian Chua was accused of sedition by stating the intrusion in Lahad Datu was a conspiracy planned by Umno to divert attention and to frighten the people.

He was alleged to have committed the offence at Fraser Business Park, Jalan Metro Pudu, off Jalan Yew here at around 11am on March 1, 2013.

Tian Chua, who was present at the proceeding, was represented by counsel Eric Paulsen. — Bernama

OPR cut pre-emptive move, says BNM chief

KUALA LUMPUR — The decision to cut the overnight policy rate (OPR) is a pre-emptive action to ensure the economy continues to remain on a steady growth path, says Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Governor Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim.

“It’s not that we expected growth to be weaker in the second half. We anticipate it to be stronger and that growth for the whole year is expected to remain between four and 4.5 per cent,” he told Bernama in his maiden media interview since his appointment as the central bank governor on May 1.

“Now, what we intend to do is to ensure this happens. Basically it is a pre-emptive move.”

BNM, in an unexpected move on Wednesday, slashed the OPR by 25 basis points to three per cent as was decided at its two-day Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting.

The last rate cut was in 2009 and the last adjustment was made in July 2014.

On the rationale for the rate cut now, Muhammad, 56, said the window of opportunity had presented itself as among others, inflation had gone lower than expected.

Inflation is projected to be lower at two to three per cent in 2016 compared with an earlier projection of 2.5-3.5 per cent while remaining stable in 2017.

“The window of opportunity is there, we just took it in our stride and say, look let’s give a boost to the economy, create an enabling environment so financing will be healthy, economic activities can prosper and people are able to generate more wealth and income,” said the calm and jovial Muhammad.

Currently, there are no plans by the MPC to change the interest rates over the next few meetings, he said, stressing that the central bank would always look at the data objectively and see what was needed.

“So, to say that there will be a series of rates cut is not true, but it’s true we will keep an open mind everytime we sit (down for the meeting),” he said.

Muhammad said the central bank, given the dynamic environment, looked at many factors when deciding on the monetary policy including developments in other countries.

However, a decision on the monetary policy is ultimately based on domestic considerations and has always been forward looking,

“In any monetary policy (decided) around the globe, when we look at what level it should be, we always look a few quarters forward to see how the economy will develop,” he said.

“We project what the growth will be in the second half of 2016 and in 2017, and we take our position in deciding the interest rate.”

Malaysia recorded an economic growth of 4.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2016 and the second quarter figure is expected to be released in August. — Bernama

‘Further cut in lending rate possible’

KUALA LUMPUR — While equity markets and the financial industry assimilate the surprise move by Bank Negara Malaysia to cut its lending rate, research houses are of the opinion that rates are in for further reduction, but all for a good reason.

The central bank’s aim is primarily to sustain Malaysia’s economic growth which has been forecast to grow between 4.0 and 4.5 per cent this year.

Hong Leong Bank opined that the central bank was taking a pre-emptive measure to wary the risks and repercussions arising from the Brexit referendum.

From April 2006, the OPR had been hovering at a high of 3.50 per cent until October 2008 and dipped to a low of two per cent in February 2009 and continued to rise gradually thereafter to 3.25 per cent before Wednesday’s cut.

Hong Leong Bank acknowledged the monetary policy statement by BNM suggested that the next course of action would largely dependent on upcoming economic indicators, in addition to monetary and financial conditions.

“Recognising downside risks to domestic growth, arising from both domestic uncertainties and external headwinds, we opine further policy easing is possible,” said the bank in a research note yesterday.

In addition, the diminishing US Federal Reserve rate hike outlook would also offer more room for BNM to nudge rates lower.

FXTM corporate development and market research vice-president Jameel Ahmad said: “The global and domestic growth prospects are already fragile confronted by mounting headwinds. The outcome of the EU referendum is the last straw that broke the camel’s back in our view.

“BNM has toned down its assessment on the domestic economic outlook.”

He said uncertainties in the global environment could weigh on Malaysia’s growth prospects.

The monetary policy meeting will continue to monitor and assess the balance of risks surrounding the outlook for domestic growth and inflation. — Bernama

New party in the works with Dr M as adviser

PUTRAJAYA — The Save Malaysia Movement will be turned into a political party which will form the backbone of all opposition parties with the aim of defeating the ruling Barisan Nasional.

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he would not lead the new party but would be its adviser.

He said expelled Umno leaders Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir and Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal were “already on board” the proposed party.

“I will be the first among equals … not necessarily the president and I am not interested to contest in the next general election,” he told a press conference after chairing a meeting in Putrajaya yesterday evening attended by leaders from the opposition parties, except Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and PAS.

“We will come out with the name of the party and launch it as soon as possible. The new party accepts anybody who has the same objective. Muhyiddin, Mukhriz and Shafie are already on board the new set-up,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said the proposed party, which had yet to identify itself as Malay-based or multi-racial, would work with all the other opposition parties to achieve its objectives.

“Indirectly, the new party and the new coalition after this can be considered as the expression of the People’s Declaration,” he said.

“We also agreed to a ceasefire among ourselves and coordinate our approaches. We want to move as a united front and be ready to fight for victory.”

Dr Mahathir said the new coalition would be bigger than the present Pakatan Harapan, which consists of three parties — DAP, PKR and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) — and had a common goal.

“We will work as a coalition where we will identify our differences and similarities,” he said.

“Each party will continue to pursue its struggles but the main fight will be to win the next general election.

“PAS is not in this new coalition because we have not invited the party but we welcome it if it wants to join.”

Dr Mahathir said the meeting agreed to form a leadership council to plan and strategise efforts from now until the next general election.

He said they were identifying candidates to contest in the general election where they planned for a straight fight all over the country.

Watch out, here comes Boris

International gaffes by Britain’s new Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson:

Turkey — May 2016

Wins a £1,000 (RM5,210) prize for penning a rude poem about Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan having sex with a goat. His limerick, published by the Spectator as a rebuff to Erdogan’s efforts to prosecute a German comedian’s offensive poem, also calls the Turkish leader a “wankerer”.

United States — April 2016

Criticised for describing Barack Obama as a “part-Kenyan” who harboured an “ancestral dislike” of Britain. He made the comments in a newspaper article after the United States president supported the Remain campaign during a visit to Britain.

Israel — November 2015

Visit to the occupied Palestinian territories is severely curtailed by his hosts in protest at a series of strongly pro-Israel remarks. They included telling an audience in Tel Aviv a trade boycott of Israeli goods was “completely crazy” and supported by “corduroy-jacketed, snuggle toothed, lefty academics in the UK”.

Japan — October 2015

Is filmed dangerously ‘wiping out’ a 10-year-old Japanese schoolboy Toki Sekiguchi during a game of street rugby on a visit to Tokyo.

United States — June 2012

Tells TV chat show host David Letterman he “could be president of the United States, technically speaking” given that he was born in New York City on June 19, 1964.

China — August 2008

In Beijing for the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, Johnson said “respectfully to our Chinese hosts” ping pong was “invented on the dining tables of England in the 19th century. It was. And it was called wiff waff”.

United States — November 2007

In a Telegraph column headlined: “I Want Hillary Clinton to be President”, he describes the Democrat: “She’s got dyed blonde hair and pouty lips, and a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital”.

Papua New Guinea — September 2006

In another attack on Tony Blair in another Telegraph column, Johnson wrote: “For 10 years, we in the Tory party have become used to Papua New Guinea-style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing and so it is with a happy amazement we watch as the madness engulfs the Labour party.”

After later apologising for any offence caused, he said he would be happy to “add Papua New Guinea to my global itinerary of apology”. However, he insisted he was not mistaken about cannibalism in the country: “My remarks were inspired by a Time Life book I have which does indeed show relatively recent photos of Papua New Guinean tribes engaged in warfare, and I’m fairly certain cannibalism was involved.”

May gets down to work under Brexit pressure

LONDON — Theresa May came under immediate pressure yesterday on her first full day as Britain’s new prime minister after a series of surprise appointments to her cabinet, including the gaffe-prone Boris Johnson as foreign minister.

Three weeks after Britain voted to leave the European Union, May also came under fire from EU leaders, who pressed her to trigger a Brexit as quickly as possible.

And as economic uncertainty swirls from the shock decision to quit the bloc, the Bank of England was mulling possible rate cuts to stimulate the economy.

Seen as a safe pair of hands who campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU, May swept to power promising a “bold new positive role” for Britain outside the bloc.

But her first choices for her close team sparked surprise, including former London mayor Johnson as Britain’s top diplomat and longtime eurosceptic David Davis in charge of the “exiting the European Union” portfolio.

While Eurosceptic tabloids rejoiced, the Daily Mirror said Johnson’s appointment left the kingdom’s credibility “hanging by a thread.”

Johnson himself said he was “humbled”.

“We have a massive opportunity in this country to make a great success of our new relationship with Europe and with the world,” he said.

EU leaders, still reeling from Britain’s decision to become the first country to leave the bloc in its 60-year history, pressed May for a quick divorce.

The vote “has created a new situation which the United Kingdom and the European Union will have to address soon,” European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said in a letter to May published on his Twitter account.

May’s first calls were to Europe’s top two powerbrokers, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.

During these talks, the British leader stressed her commitment to delivering Brexit but “explained we would need some time to prepare for these negotiations and spoke of her hope these could be conducted in a constructive and positive spirit”, a Downing Street spokesman said.

European Council president Donald Tusk said he looked forward to a “fruitful working relationship”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was ready for “constructive dialogue” with Britain’s new premier, while White House spokesman Josh Earnest said US officials who had worked with May “found her to be quite effective”.

New finance minister Philip Hammond who took over from George Osborne, a stalwart of Cameron’s government who fell by the wayside in the transition, confirmed there would be “no emergency budget.”

Osborne had been accused of fear-mongering during the referendum campaign by saying a new austerity budget might immediately be needed if Britain chose to leave the union.

Economists have warned the country may be headed for a recession as financial markets continue to seesaw over the vote and investors hold off key spending decisions while waiting to see where the chips fall.

The Times said Britain was at a “turning point”, with its wealth, stability and identity all at stake.

“Economic uncertainty lingers,” it said. — AFP

Najib congratulates new PM

KUALA LUMPUR — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday congratulated Theresa May on her appointment as the new premier of the United Kingdom.

Najib said he was looking forward to working with May in further strengthening trade and investment ties between UK and Malaysia.

“Congratulations @theresa_may. Looking forward to work with you to further strengthen UK-Malaysia ties, especially trade and investment,” said Najib in his Twitter account @NajibRazak.

May, 59, who was UK home secretary, took the office after premier David Cameron resigned following the referendum last month, which resulted in Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU).

May, who is the new Conservative Party leader, became the UK’s second female prime minister, taking charge at one of the most turbulent times in recent political history of the European Union.
— Bernama

Fewer deaths due to ‘total enforcement strategy’

KUALA LUMPUR — There was a decline in the number of fatal acidents and illegal use of emergency lanes during Ops Selamat from June 29 to Wednesday in conjunction with the Aidilfitri celebrations.

Federal Traffic Police Investigations and Enforcement deputy director (Enforcement, Traffic Areas, Summons Management) ACP Ruslan Khalid attributed the drop in cases to the total enforcement strategy implemented by police throughout the operation.

From a total of 20,979 accidents nationwide, there were 273 that involved 299 deaths.

Ruslan said the fatal accidents this year dropped by 10 per cent compared to 330 fatalities in 303 accidents in the same operation last year.

He also said there was a 56.8 per cent drop in cases of abusing emergency lanes, with 1,146 cases reported this year compared to 2,652 last year.

“Awareness of the importance of not using the emergency lanes were highlighted by the media, and we believe this resulted in fewer offenders,” he told a press conference.

A total of 246,104 summonses were issued during the operation with speeding making up 133,695 summonses. In the same operation last year, there were 239,107 summonses, including 133,918 for speeding.

Ruslan said investigations found the culprits of most accidents were local people who did not adhere to road traffic rules.

He said those in the more visited areas were not used to heavy traffic and were careless with the sudden influx of cars.

“The increase in the vehicles, added with the complacency of locals, attributed to accidents as the smaller roads became busier,” he said.

Also present at the press conference was Bukit Aman Operations, Intelligence, and Records Department (D4) Superintendent of Criminal Records Supt Shamsul Amar Ramli who said there was a drop inhouse break-ins over the festive period.

He said this year there were 794 cases of break-ins nationwide, which were a 8.9 per cent drop as compared to 872 cases last year.

Penang recorded the biggest drop in break-in cases with 12 reported compared to 51 last year.

“Sarawak recorded the highest increase with 71 break-in cases, a 61.3 per cent spike as compared to last year,” he said.

Shamsul said Kuala Lumpur and Selangor recorded an increase and decrease in break-ins respectively.

“The capital saw 110 cases of break-ins, 11 more than last year,” he said.

Selangor on the other hand recorded a four per cent drop in house break-ins, with 263 reported incidents as compared to the 274 cases last year.

Federal Police Crime Prevention and Community Safety Department Assistant Superintendent of Operations ASP Syahrul Nizam Abu Bakar said a total of 68,716 reports were received by residents intending to ‘balik kampung’.

This, he said, resulted in 163,267 visit and patrols by officers to empty houses nationwide.

“There were only three houses which reported their absence to police that were broken into,” he said.

Runaway bus driver freed on police bail

IPOH — The driver of the express bus which rammed into 10 vehicles near Menora Tunnel on Sunday was released on police bail yesterday after the expiry of his four-day remand.

District police chief ACP Sum Chang Keong said the driver aged 51 could not be charged yet as police had not received the relevant report from the Computerised Vehicle Inspection Centre (Puspakom).

“We submitted the investigation paper to the deputy public prosecutor yesterday. When the Puspakom report is completed, we will refer the case to DPP again,” he said in a Bernama report.

Sum said police had also recorded statements from other vehicle owners and passengers in the bus.

Brake failure was believed to have caused the bus to ram into the 10 vehicles at Km 265.8 along the North-South Expressway at about 2.45pm.

All 28 passengers in the bus and the driver, and occupants in the other vehicles escaped unhurt except for a 21-year-old woman who complained of pain on
her abdomen.

The bus was found to have 63 outstanding summonses from other drivers for various offences while the driver himself has nine outstanding summonses for various offences, including speeding, between 2011 and 2015.

Following the discovery of unpaid summonses, Malay Mail on Wednesday exposed flaws in the blacklist system for traffic offenders.

The police, Road Transport Department (RTD) and Public Transport Commission (SPAD) are not linked to a common system to share information and ensure repeat traffic offenders, including drivers of commercial vehicles, are kept off the road.

Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Ab Aziz Kaprawi had said this allowed motorists, including those with numerous unpaid summonses, to renew their licence and road tax easily.

“All three authorities are working on different platforms and there is no one system to synchronise the information of motorists who break the law,” he said.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai confirmed this on Wednesday when he urged RTD to synchronise its list of blacklisted drivers with the police and SPAD.

He said in Bentong that he was aware that JPJ could not blacklist traffic offenders as it did not share the police and SPAD’s system.

Meanwhile, Federal Traffic Police Investigations and Enforcement Department deputy director (Enforcement, Traffic Areas, Summons Management) ACP Ruslan Khalid said there was no particular time frame for a traffic offender to be blacklisted after the issuance of a summons.

He told reporters in Bukit Aman yesterday that when summonses were unsettled, police would send a court order by post.

If the order is ignored, the report would then be forwarded to the Road Transport Department(RTD) for investigations.

“We can then propose to blacklist the concerned offender to the RTD, but the final decision is with the agency issuing the licences and permits.

“There is no time frame that decides when an offender would be blacklisted. It is all subject to investigations,” he said.

Group slams SPAD over one-month suspension 
of company

PETALING JAYA — The company that operates the bus that went out of control near the Menora Tunnel has been let off with just a slap on the wrist, a public transport group said.

National Users of Public Transport Association president Ajot Johl said the punishment meted out by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) against Qistna Express Sdn Bhd was a “joke”.

“SPAD’s punishment is a joke. We are shocked at the commission’s methodology of disciplining irresponsible express
bus operators.”

Qistna was slapped with a one-month suspension after one of its Penang-Kuala Lumpur bound buses lost control and slammed into 10 cars at Km265.8 along the North-South Expressway.

“This is literally encouraging others to keep violating the system … the operator did not even get a fine. What is the purpose of having a regulator who cannot seem to regulate?”

Ajit said SPAD should take full responsibility for the incident.

“SPAD should have ensured its strict guidelines were adhered to when issuing an operating licence instead of passing the buck around.

“The commission should have suspended the operator till a full investigation was completed.

“The company directors should be fined and the company itself should be placed on an official watch-list, so users are aware of how they have flouted the law,” he said.

Ajit appealed to the authorities to ensure a thorough and complete investigation of the incident and prosecution of those responsible for putting the public at risk.

“SPAD needs to be made accountable to the public.

“We ask that SPAD be placed directly under the Transport Ministry. Public transport is too important to be left in the hands of an independent commission.”

E-Paper Article View